THE DAY REPLAYED – The last two quarter-finals of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Japan 2012 could hardly have turned out more differently. Germany kicked off the day’s proceedings by surging into a 2-0 lead after just seven minutes of their tie with Norway, Lena Lotzen and Melanie Leupolz scoring the goals that set the defending champions on the road to a commanding 4-0 win. Losing coach Jarl Torske later acknowledged that his side had been well beaten.
There was nothing one-sided about the evening meeting between Korea DPR and USA, however, as goalkeepers O Chang Ran and Bryane Heaberlin turned in inspired performances to keep the scoreline close. It took a Vanessa Di Bernardo wonder goal to beat the North Korean custodian, while Heaberlin was eventually undone by Kim Su Gyong’s precise drive. The last word of a pulsating game went to USA substitute Chioma Ubogagu, who struck eight minutes into extra time to give the Americans victory by the same scoreline as when the two sides met in the final at Chile 2008.
Germany 4-0 Norway
Korea DPR 1-2 USA (aet)
Goal of the day
Korea DPR-USA, Vanessa Di Bernardo, 52
Any goal scored in a FIFA World Cup quarter-final is an important one, but strikes as good as this one live long in the memory, especially for the scorer. Di Bernardo’s curling effort form 20 metres proved too precise and powerful for North Korean keeper O Chang Ran, squeezing just inside the post. As well as putting USA in the lead, the midfielder’s sumptuous goal was the Americans’ first in 196 minutes of football, their second-longest scoreless spell in the competition after the 263 minutes they went without a goal between Russia 2006 and Chile 2008.
Hansen sees red: Midfielder Caroline Hansen has been Norway’s best player at Japan 2012, impressing with her dribbling skills, turn of pace and eye for a pass, and capping it all with two fine goals in the group phase. Her fine contribution to the tournament ended on a sour note, however, when she was sent off for raising a boot and hitting Germany keeper Laura Benkharth flush in the face.
A perfect gent: Jarl Torske could have been excused for forgetting his manners after his side’s 4-0 loss at the hands of Germany. Yet the Norway coach is nothing if not a gentleman, even in defeat. He was all smiles during the press conference that followed the game, much to the delight of the attending journalists, and even found the time to voice his gratitude to the country that has hosted his players for the last three weeks, all in Japanese. And that was not all. The courteous tactician also had words of encouragement and a smile for the Korea DPR players as they waited to go out on to the pitch for their semi-final, and completed his goodbye tour by wishing their coach Sin Ui Gun the best of luck and giving him a hug.
Korea DPR on target again: Korea DPR’s meeting with the USA was their 20th FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup match. The North Koreans have scored in all but one of those games, the only exception being their quarter-final with Germany two years ago.
5 - The number of games Germany have played against European sides in the history of the tournament and the number of wins they have recorded in those matches, with 21 goals scored and only four conceded. In beating the Norwegians, the Germans have now also racked up five consecutive wins without letting a goal in, a new record for the competition, as is their amazing ongoing run of 11 wins in a row. Finally, five is also the number of times Germany have reached the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup semi-finals, another record and one equalled a few hours later by the USA.
“The better team won, and to my mind Germany are the best team in Europe. We’ve had three fantastic weeks here. Everything’s been perfect, and that’s the view we’ll be taking back with us to Norway. It’s been a great experience and a real honour to be here,” Norway coach Jarl Torske
The schedule (all times local)
Semi-finals, 4 September 2012
Nigeria-USA, Tokyo, 16:00
Japan-Germany, Tokyo, 19:30